All 299 available places for the three-day event were snapped up within two minutes when reservations opened on Thursday at noon, further evidence of the rampaging popularity of our favorite sport.
Inaugural National Mall Of Pickleball
As we reported earlier this week, the JFK Hockey Fields next to the Lincoln Memorial will be the site of the inaugural National Mall of Pickleball event from September 28 to 30.
The event on the Mall will include celebrity matches, a rec league tournament, pickleball clinics, and a D.C. Pickleball Team showcase.
Spectators can still enjoy watching a series of pickleball matches even during lulls in the competition. Comedian Rob Riggle will serve as the emcee for a celebrity contest featuring notable participants, including Wizards player Corey Kispert.
Additionally, journalist Katie Couric will take part in a match alongside a group of local senior athletes.
The Excitement And The National Feeling
“The Mall and its adjacent areas have been utilized for sports like hockey, volleyball, and softball,” stated Catherine Townsend, president and CEO of the Trust for the National Mall, in collaboration with health organization Humana.
The response to registration for the event “surpassed our expectations,” she told Tara Bahrampour at The Washington Post. “It’s just a testament to the excitement and the national feeling. You have the pleasure of playing with the backdrop of the monuments. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Some walk-up opportunities will be available for players who weren’t able to sign up before 12:02 p.m. on Thursday.
Membership Has Surged
Scott Parker, the managing director of Washington DC Pickleball, a non-profit dedicated to promoting and organizing the game in the District, noted that membership has surged from 150 to 1200 in the last four years. Two representatives from the club are set to participate in a game at the event.
He also mentioned that the challenge for urban areas like D.C. is not attracting pickleball players but locating suitable venues: “I think it’s nice to build awareness of it. But frankly, we don’t have a problem stimulating demand at this point; it’s like a daily tsunami.”
This “tsunami” of interest is evident at the Palisades Recreation Center in Northwest Washington. The tennis courts now serve a dual purpose, with blue lines marking the boundaries for pickleball players, who convene there on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.
“It Didn’t Matter If It Was Snowing”
Dee Matthews, 75, initiated her pickleball journey in 2019 during her summer in Colorado. Upon returning, Parker, her neighbor, encouraged her to join the club; she now serves as its social director.
She recalled how the Palisades group persisted in outdoor play through the pandemic rather than shifting to indoor courts: “It didn’t matter if it was snowing. We were wearing masks out here.”
Now, they continue to play outdoors year-round.
“We’ve got people who are 80, 81, 82, and you can still play it when you’re that old because you don’t have to run,” Matthews added.
“A Good Way To Stay Active”
Dan Breslow, 23, launched his pickleball journey in New Jersey and played his first game at Palisades just six weeks ago, following his move to the District for a new job. Now, he walks an hour to the courts and back from his home in Georgetown four times a week just to play.
“It’s a good way to stay active, and the barrier to entry is really low,” he commented. “I just showed up here one day with no prior connection, and everyone was extremely welcoming.”
The game is renowned for nurturing friendships as Northwest Washington resident Andrea Miano, 58, confirms: “It’s a super social sport, and it’s a good way to meet people. I’ve met good friends.”
On Court Two To Three Hours At A Time
Alex Levin, 57, of Cabin John, Maryland, who had just finished playing doubles with Miano, shared that he’s often on the court for two to three hours at a time and intends to participate in the club’s tournament at Turkey Thicket on September 23 and 24.
The Mall event also sounded appealing to him. However, upon learning it was fully booked, he simply shrugged.
“Well then, I guess I’m not going.”
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?